Local San Jose Artist Inspires Psychological Healing through Art Therapy
Danielle Razik helps victims of abuse overcome trauma with creative coping methods.
San Jose artist Danielle Razik, also known as Rhapsody Decoded, creates intriguing art pieces that embody a cross-pollination between her love for fine crafts and her strong desire to better society. Inspired by Star Trek character Jean-Luc Picard, she completed a degree in Anthropology at University of California Santa Cruz. Captivated by the study of different cultures, she decided to join local organizations in providing humanitarian aid to those in need.
Having spent years in humanitarian work, however, Danielle also realizes its limitations and potential threat to local cultures and ways of life. Her trip to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 proved to be a pivotal moment. Although she saw the benefits of delivering food to the disaster victims, she later learned about the possible spread of disease by the United Nations peacekeeping group to the already-vulnerable Haitians. Prior to the arrival of the United Nations, cholera had not been found in Haiti. According to a National Public Radio (NPR) article, the first cases of the cholera outbreak in Haiti “appeared in the central highlands near a camp for United Nations peacekeeping forces.” Feeling discouraged, Danielle chose to retire from humanitarian work and turned to art instead to express the pain she had felt but equally important, to help those in her community.
An Artistic Beginning
With a loving heart and an interdisciplinary background, Danielle began delivering her first art therapy sessions at a shelter in 2012. She has worked with people ranging from domestic violence victims and LGBTQ youths to children under foster care. Seeing the victims work through their pains and transform their lives for the better through art therapy remains gratifying for Danielle.
“I was really encouraged that people, through art therapy and their own creative processes, were becoming survivors and [in turn] helping other people. And I realize that that’s really how I can leave a mark,” Danielle states.
By turning to art, Danielle channels her creative talents into helping the world become a better place.
Danielle graciously provides us with a glimpse into her art therapy sessions. She shares that art therapy varies, depending on the client and the type of trauma. Not all methods are appropriate for everyone because each person processes emotions or traumatic events differently.
One method Danielle uses involves having her clients draw trees. While the client’s earliest memory is carved into the base of the tree, the first branch represents the first trauma. The first branch then extends into various smaller branches that represent resulting issues, insecurities, or concerns that have stemmed from that original trauma. Afterwards, clients can intellectually decide to cut off that first branch and ultimately all the other problems that follow.
Danielle teaches her clients, “The emotions are real, but you can choose to be empowered by them.”
However, Danielle uses color therapy with clients who are more attuned to their emotions. Clients are first asked to paint how they're feeling in a color. For example, the color blue may symbolize sadness. After painting that first layer, the clients are asked, “Let’s talk about something beautiful that makes you happy. What color would that be?” A client may then start mixing the color red with that first layer of blue, thus creating the color purple. By participating in color therapy and thinking about something more positive, along with breathing exercises and other coping skills, a person can instantly change his or her brain chemistry for the better.
The Evolving Artist
“An artist is always moving forward, evolving him/herself, and making new things that cause complex feelings. An artist tries to connect with the web of the universe and make it better,” says Danielle.
Outside of art therapy, Danielle seeks to create moving art pieces that capture her soul or inspire others to overcome trauma or obstacles in life. Danielle enjoys working with mediums like paint, clay, and color pencil, and she always looks forward to her next piece.
“My next piece is always my favorite piece,” Danielle explains with a grin.
Every month, Danielle works on a different art project. Although it was New Years, Danielle had felt stuck because of the wet weather. After dreaming of a doorway, she decided to commit to drawing the doorway each day for the entire month of January 2019.
Along with her monthly projects, Danielle works on various ongoing projects like drawing vibrant self-portraits with different mediums.
To artist Danielle, every month marks the start of a new artistic adventure. Danielle explains that her goal is to be the best version of herself, and she continues to improve and explore as an artist.
Mental health is a topic that should be taken seriously. Information described in the article should not replace doctor-prescribed medications or other therapy sessions. For free and confidential support, please refer to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call them at 1-800-273-8255.